BLM’s Wyoming Wild Horse Facility Closed Temporarily

Source: Multiple

“Closed due to bad weather and contract issues?!?!?  I smell a rat!” ~ R.T.


photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo.  — The only federal wild horse short-term holding facility in Wyoming is closed until February for tours and adoptions. The federal Bureau of Land Management says it’s because of bad weather and unspecified contract issues. The facility houses about 700 wild horses. Most have been gathered from Wyoming herd management areas. The facility also serves as a rest stop for wild horses being transported east from western states. The facility is expected to reopen Feb. 29.  (Maybe the weather will be better then???)

38 comments on “BLM’s Wyoming Wild Horse Facility Closed Temporarily

  1. Yet another reason the BLM should invest some of their millions of taxpayer dollars in some game cameras at all facilities, and post them live online as so many other public sites do. It isn’t hard or expensive to do this, and folks feeding hay can easily change out batteries as needed. If they have nothing to hide they should embrace this idea, if they have something to hide, a rejection will only raise suspicions.

    Is there some legal channel through which we can demand the Rock Springs facility put up some cameras — also bought with taxpayer dollars — to ensure some accountability during the two harshest months of winter straight ahead?

    I’m curious also about the “contractor” issues, since it doesn’t seem contractors are the ones conducting the adoptions? I think they are short staffed but doubt the adoption process is handled by contractors, don’t know for certain though. Does anyone reading this know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This facility is actually one of the easiest to view in the country. It’s right off I-80 and they have a “viewing area” with a couple benches up on a hill where you can see all the pens. It’s shut down several times this year, due to a lack of staffing to handle the number of horses that are currently there. Basically the gal who approves and facilitates adoptions has been having to help with feed and care instead of her actual job of finding new homes. I don’t know about right now, but the Wild Horse Specialist has been chipping in too in months past.

      The BLM solely handles adoptions, not the contractors and it is BLM staff who cares for the captive horses. The place desperately needs some wind breaks and shelter for the horses there, and you do need to drive behind the hay pile to see the quarantine aka sick pens, but for the most part the horses there are healthy and in good physical condition. Their mental condition and spirits are another matter entirely, of course, but I’m afraid there’s no fixing that short of releasing them all back to their homes

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      • I’m relieved to hear someone actually has eyes on these horses and KNOWS how they are being cared for. But I cannot understand WHY advocates are not allowed to donate the materials for wind breaks and shelters – whether its summer or winter – these animals would be able to find both if they were FREE! Unfortunately, the decision seems to remain with the very small-minded bureaucracy in DC, I guess. Sounds like the employees on the ground are getting short-changed, too!

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  2. Is there ANYONE out there that can do a recon? These places are so hopelessly out of the way…and they certainly have taken advantage of that fact over the years. And yes I think the idea of cameras at these holding facilities should be pursued…where does one begin? Vern Buchanan?

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  3. Even if the cameras are installed its easy to simply to turn them off. Like I have said before when they had a round up someone living in the state where the round up was going to be held could have parked themselves off the road so as not to draw attention from the truck drivers and still keep the trucks in sight as they were leaving and headed supposedly to the holding pens. With a full tank of gas you could follow them to see just where they are actually going if they hit the interstate heading North or South that would give you some idea if they are headed to Canada or Mexico. With a camera armed with a telephoto lens to take photos of the license plate along with ID numbers on the truck, you would need someone along with you as a spotter.
    This also may be a lie because many of the horses may have died because of the cold as we all know they don’t have any shelters. The news yesterday said there were blizzards and heavy snow.

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    • Barbara, it has been very cold there, I live a bit further south and can attest to double digit below zero numbers in the past week, with some significant wind and blizzards.

      Rock Springs is located along the interstate in Southern WY so not that hard to access, but that interstate is often closed in winter, too, due to blizzards and high winds.

      Per cameras – if you had a dozen or so on site and a mandate they be “live” since we pay for them, the BLM employees, and all the Wild Horse and Burro Program, anyone turning them off could be considered in violation.

      Maybe this is an avenue we can pursue, like the police body cams, we need cameras on site with our captive wild horses and burros. This is really not expensive and would go a long ways towards keeping everyone on all sides of the issue honest. It couldn’t prevent intentional poor practices but nothing could, really. We have the technology and familiarity to use inexpensive cameras with a live feed on the internet so should use them. BLM doesn’t want the public on site for a multitude of reasons (some legitimate, some not) so they should happily adopt live cams if they are proud of their work and want to keep their paychecks.

      Also, there are not that many LTH and STH facilities overall. so with a dozen or so cameras at each one, accountability is within reach and is reasonable. We should demand nothing less.

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      • Another quick thought. I am not in a position to adopt a wild horse or burro (as are many who care about them) but I would happily spend $125 to “adopt” a live camera to be kept “live” online on a publicly accessible website, with penalties for down time due to being turned off or someone neglecting to replace batteries. It is possible these could be run with a small solar panel to prevent the battery life problem.

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      • Ok FBI it’s time for you to take a look at BLM and the cruelty they have done to all the Wild Horses…. From their captures to the way they house them to the selling of them to known killers who take them to slaughter. It’s time to investigate the BLM…..

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  4. The Checkerboard lawsuit is still ongoing
    In the event of a win, could some of these captives possibly be returned to their Herd Management Areas?
    That would put them at great risk of disappearing from the holding facility

    BLM moves to remedy shortcomings over 2014 Wyoming roundup
    https://rtfitchauthor.com/2015/11/23/blm-moves-to-remedy-shortcomings-over-2014-wyoming-roundup/

    The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region – so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.
    US District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal issued an order stating that the BLM violated the environmental act when it conducted the operation in the southwest of the state. He remanded the violation back to the BLM to “remedy the deficiencies

    DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER

    Katherine A. Meyer
    Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal
    1601 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
    Suite 700
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    (202) 588-5206
    Timothy Kingston
    408 West 23rd Street, Suite 1
    Cheyenne, WY 82001-3519
    (WY Bar No. 6-2720)
    (307) 638-8885

    Attorneys for Defendant-Intervenors
    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING
    Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF
    Plaintiff,
    v.
    Ken Salazar, et al.,
    Defendants,

    DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER

    I, Lloyd Eisenhauer, declare as follows:

    1. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am a former Bureau of Land Management
    (“BLM”) official with extensive experience in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts in Wyoming and intimate familiarity with the public lands under BLM management in those areas. I have reviewed the consent decree proposed by BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (“RSGA”) in this case and provide this declaration based on my longstanding knowledge of, and management of, wild horses and livestock grazing in the Rock Springs and Rawlins Districts.

    2. I grew up in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming with a livestock and farming background, served in the Marines for four years, and then owned a livestock business from 1952-1958. I enrolled in college in 1958, studying range management. From 1960-1961, BLM hired me to assist with collecting field data for vegetation assessments and carrying capacity surveys related to livestock and wild horses. These surveys were conducted in the Lander, Kemmerer, and Rawlins Districts. When I graduated in 1962, BLM hired me full-time to serve in the Rawlins District in Wyoming, where most of my work focused on grazing management involving sheep, cattle, and wild horses. From 1968-1972, I was Area Manager of the Baggs-Great Divide Resource Area in the Rawlins District. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted, and in the spring of 1972, on behalf of BLM, I conducted the first aerial survey of wild horses in Wyoming, recording the number of horses and designating the Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) for the Rawlins District. After a stint as an Area Manager with BLM’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, in 1975 I took over as the Chief of Planning and Environmental Analysis in BLM’s Rock Springs District for three years. I was the lead on all planning and environmental assessments. During that time, I also served as the Acting Area Manager of the Salt Wells Resource Area, which is located in the Rock Springs District. In 1979, BLM transferred me to its Denver Service Center to serve as the Team Leader in creating the agency’s automated process for data collection. I received an excellence of service award from the Secretary of the Interior commending me for my work as a Team Leader. In 1982, I became the Head of Automation in BLM’s Cheyenne office, where I managed and implemented the data collection and processing of various systems related to BLM programs. I retired from BLM in 1986, and have stayed very involved in the issue of wild horse and livestock management on BLM lands in Wyoming, and have written articles about the issue in local and other newspaper outlets. I have won various journalistic awards, including a Presidential award, for my coverage of conservation districts in Wyoming. Along with a partner, I operated a tour business (called Backcountry Tours) for six years, taking various groups into wild places in Wyoming – without a doubt wild horses were the most popular thing to see on a tour, in large part due to their cultural and historical value. I also served six years on the governor’s non-point source water quality task force.

    3. Based on my longstanding knowledge of wild horse and livestock management in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts, and in the Wyoming Checkerboard in particular, I am very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA, embodied in the proposed Consent Decree they have filed in this case, under which BLM would remove all wild horses located on RSGA’s private lands on the Wyoming Checkerboard.

    4. The Checkerboard is governed by an exchange of use agreement between the federal government and private parties such as RSGA. However, due to state laws, property lines, and intermingled lands, it is impossible to fence the lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard, which means that both the wild horses and the livestock that graze there roam freely between public and private lands on the Checkerboard without any physical barriers. For this reason, it is illogical for BLM to commit to removing wild horses that are on the “private” lands RSGA owns or leases because those same horses are likely to be on public BLM lands (for example, the Salt Wells, Adobe Town, Great Divide, and White Mountains HMAs) earlier in that same day or later that same evening. Essentially, in contrast to other areas of the country where wild horses still exist, on the Wyoming Checkerborad there is no way to distinguish between horses on “private” lands and those on public lands, and therefore it would be unprecedented, and indeed impossible for BLM to contend that it is removing all horses on RSGA’s “private” lands at any given time of the year, month, or day, considering that those horses would only be on the strictly “private” lands very temporarily and intermittently on any particular day .

    5. Another major concern with BLM’s agreement to remove all horses from the private lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard is that BLM is undermining the laws that apply to the Checkerboard, and wild horse management in general, which I implemented during my time as a BLM official. Traditionally, BLM officials (myself included) have understood that, pursuant to the Wild Horse Act, wild horses have a right to use BLM lands, so long as their population numbers do not cause unacceptable damage to vegetation or other resources. In stark contrast, however, livestock (sheep and cattle) have no similar right to use BLM lands; rather, livestock owners may be granted the privilege of using BLM lands for livestock grazing pursuant to a grazing permit that is granted by BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act, but that privilege can be revoked, modified, or amended by BLM for various reasons, including for damage to vegetation or other resources caused by livestock, or due to sparse forage available to sustain livestock after wild horses are accounted for. BLM’s tentative agreement here does the opposite and instead prioritizes livestock over wild horses, by proposing to remove hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard without reducing livestock numbers – which, in my view, is contrary to the laws governing BLM’s actions as those mandates were explained to me and administered during the decades that I was a BLM official.

    6. While I do not agree with every management action taken by BLM over the years in the Rock Springs District, I can attest – based on my longstanding employment with BLM and my active monitoring of the agency’s activities during retirement – that BLM has generally proven capable of removing wild horses in the Rock Springs District, including by responding to emergency situations when needed and removing horses when necessary due to resource damage.

    7. Considering that wild horses exhibit different foraging patterns and movement patterns than sheep and cattle, and also than big game such as antelope and elk, no sound biological basis exists for permanently removing wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard at this time. In particular, wild horses tend to hang out in the uplands at a greater distance from water sources until they come to briefly drink water every day or two, whereas livestock congregate near water sources and riparian habitat causing concentrated damage to vegetation and soil. For this reason, the impacts of wild horses are far less noticeable on the Checkerboard than impacts from livestock.

    8. In addition, because livestock tend to eat somewhat different forage than wild horses (horses tend to eat coarser vegetation such as Canadian wild rye and other bunch grasses, whereas cattle and sheep mostly eat softer grasses), there is no justification to remove wild horses on the basis that insufficient forage exists to support the current population of wild horses. Also, because cattle and sheep have no front teeth on the front part of their upper jaws, they tend to pull and tear grasses or other forage out by the root causing some long-term damage to vegetation, whereas wild horses, which have front teeth on both their front upper and lower jaws, act more like a lawnmower and just clip the grass or forage (leaving the root uninjured), allowing the vegetation to quickly grow back. These differences are extremely significant because if there were a need to reduce the use of these BLM lands by animals to preserve these public lands, it might be cattle and sheep – not wild horses – that should be reduced to gain the most benefit for the lands, and which is why BLM, during my time as an agency official, focused on reducing livestock grazing.

    9. BLM’s agreement with RSGA states that RSGA’s conservation plan limited livestock grazing, primarily by sheep, to the winter months to provide sufficient winter forage. This is a good example of “multiple use” management, since wild horses and sheep have very little competition for the forage they consume and the seasons during which they use parts of the Checkerboard. During winter, sheep use the high deserts and horses utilize the uplands and breaks (i.e., different locations) for forage and protection. During the summer, when sheep are not present, wild horses use various landscapes on the Checkerboard. This multiple use should continue for the benefit of the livestock, the wild horses, and the public and private lands involved.

    10. I am also very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA to permanently zero out the Salt Wells HMA and the Divide Basin HMA, leaving no wild horses in those areas that have long contained wild horses. I have been to fifteen of the sixteen HMAs in Wyoming, and to my knowledge none has ever been zeroed out by BLM. It is my view, based on everything I know about these areas and the way these public lands are used by wild horses and livestock, that BLM has no biological or ecological basis for zeroing out a herd of wild horses in an HMA that existed at the time the wild horse statute was passed in 1971, as is the case with both the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs. And, again, because the wild horses have a statutory right to be there, whereas livestock only have a privilege that can be revoked at any time by BLM, there also is no authority or precedent, to my knowledge, for the agency to zero out these two longstanding wild horse herds simply to appease private livestock grazers.

    11. The zeroing out of wild horses in the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs is also concerning because it would mean that, in those two longstanding HMAs, there would no longer be the “multiple use” of these public lands as required by both the Wild Horse Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Currently, while there are other uses of this public land, such as by wildlife, hunters, and recreational users, the two primary uses in those HMAs are by wild horses and livestock. If BLM proceeds with its agreement with RSGA to zero out wild horses in those HMAs, the only major use remaining would be livestock use, meaning that there would be no multiple use of those BLM lands. Not only will that potentially undermine the laws that BLM officials must implement here, but it has practical adverse effects on the resources – multiple use is very beneficial for the environment, and particularly for sensitive vegetation, because different users (e.g., livestock, wild horses) use the lands and vegetation in different ways. When that is eliminated, the resources are subjected to an unnatural use of the lands which can cause severe long-term damage to the vegetation. As a result, zeroing out these herds would likely bedevastating for the vegetation in these two HMAs, because livestock would be by far the predominant use in this area.

    12. Turning the White Mountain HMA into a non-reproducing herd, as the agreement between BLM and RSGA proposes to do, is also a farce, and violates the meaning of a wild and free-roaming animal. This is essentially a slow-motion zeroing out of this HMA, and is inconsistent with any wild horse management approach I am familiar with that BLM has implemented on public lands.
    Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

    Lloyd Eisenhauer

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    • Louie, I think I read in the EA that two of the HMAs will no longer be managed for wild horses in the Checkerboard, and other sources indicate they are consolidating some of the areas into larger blocks, and possibly selling off BLM lands in some areas of it as well. I doubt any horses exiled will see their homelands again.

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  5. It would not be the first time that WH&B have disappeared from BLM holding facilities, especially over the holidays, when most government offices are closed.

    From AMERICAN HERDS
    Allegations, Hearsay and What the F*%k?
    http://americanherds.blogspot.com/2009/01/allegations-hearsay-and-what-fk.html

    It started the day after the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s Reno Meeting held on November 17, 2008 as an Anonymous phone call spilled through the airwaves into the ears of the International Fund 4 Horses. Prone to receiving a wide variety of odd, unverifiable and even crank correspondence, there was little that could be done with the Anonymous “tip” besides being highly disturbed.
    The hastily scribbled notes from the Anonymous caller read:

    *WATCH ALL HOLDING FACILITIES* as early as next weekend, but especially around Thanksgiving. The BLM have been fudging the numbers on what horses are where and how many.

    The Plan: 200-300 geldings are being moved about 40 at a time to Mexico for slaughter; 400-500 mares moved, then killed and buried at various facilities. Ditches for the bodies are being dug right now out in the desert, near an airbase so would be difficult for civilians to get out there. Will drive them to the spot, shoot them, then bulldoze them into the ditches and cover them up.

    Pulling off such a dastardly deed around Thanksgiving would be nothing new as it was the day before the Congressional Thanksgiving break the Burns Amendment was slipped in and the timing of the “tip” smacked of historical irony. It also bode well for covert activities, as most people would be busy with holiday festivities, family and friends.

    One month later on December 19th, 2008 between 10 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., 200 geldings and 100 mares plus their foals disappeared from BLMs Palomino Valley Holding Facilities (PVC). According to a local wild horse advocate (who’s identity is being kept anonymous here for obvious reasons), most of these were identified as wild horses that arrived last summer from the Nevada Wild Horse Range (aka Nellis) and North Stillwater gathers.

    These wild horses were well known by the observer due to the length of time they were held at PVC and a little less than three weeks before they disappeared, these same wild horses had been extensively photographed over the course of an entire afternoon.

    According to their report, despite being held captive for six months, which gave BLM more than enough time to geld all the stallions, many still failed to have BLM’s trademark freezebrand on their necks and some were even devoid of the telling rope collars with their dangling metal ID’s.

    Due to the weekend and then the holidays, no one was available to answer questions about where the 300 wild horses plus the foals had gone in the middle of the night…

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  6. Re: Cameras at holding facilities. I know BLM’s Litchfield holding facility had cameras at the front gate but pointed at visitors entering. I also know that the hay contractor supplied the persons who did the actual feeding and broke ice in the water troughs. BLM employees sat inside the office playing computer games.

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  7. «unspecified contract issues»

    Hmmm… this sounds like either BLM rescinded this contract because it was awarded illegally or because the facility owes money to workers, suppliers or somebody else (a foreclosure?). Either way this puts the horses into harms way… and I suspect the wranglers will be funneling them to slaughter, taking advantage of the “opportunity”.

    We need somebody to check on the horses and find out what’s going on.

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    • I was thinking about not being able to get the corrals and water sources plowed out, we’ve had a lot of snow in recent weeks, can’t imagine how the wild horses manage in cramped corrals without occasional plowing of snow, especially as that area is famously windy and wintry.

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  8. If they are slaughtering…..I’m going to make sure the world hears about it. BLM, disgusting, good ole boys. Let’s hold them accountable!

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  9. BLM clearly stands for BAD land management. The people running it all need to be fired and replaced by people not owned by cattle ranchers.

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  10. BLM Launches Scoping on Proposed Wild Horse Research Gather in White Mountain and Little Colorado HMAs
    By Bureau of Land Management

    ROCK SPRINGS – An innovative wild horse study will be launched by the Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Field Office. In an effort to find new solutions to population control on public lands, BLM has launched a 30-day public scoping period to prepare an environmental assessment on a proposed gather of excess wild horses from White Mountain and Little Colorado (WMLC) Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Researching the behavior of spayed mares will be a key component of the gather.
    The RSFO proposes to conduct the research study in conjunction with the United States Geological Service (USGS) in the two HMAs. The research study would place radio collars on a portion of the mares and place radio tail trackers tags on a portion of the stallions in the HMAs.
    Approximately one year after the radio collars and tags are implemented, a portion of the White Mountain mares would be selected to be gathered, spayed and studied further to examine their behavior and band fidelity, demography (birth and survival rates), and spatial ecology both pre- and post-treatment. The Little Colorado HMA would be gathered to the high Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 100 wild horses and would be studied as a control group.
    According to recent population surveys, there are approximately 268 adult wild horses in the White Mountain HMA and approximately 330 adult wild horses in the Little Colorado HMA. Besides being over the appropriate management level, the White Mountain HMA is part of the Consent Decree, requiring BLM to gather horses to low AML.
    Public input is valuable early in the process and will enable the BLM to develop a well-informed environmental assessment. Written comments should be received by January 14, 2016, and may be emailed only to blm_wy_whitemtn_littleco_hma@blm.gov (please list “WMLC Scoping Comment” in the subject line), mailed or hand-delivered during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to: BLM Rock Springs Field Office, WMLC Scoping Comment, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    For more information, please contact the BLM wild horse specialist at 307-352-0256.

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